Mass Culture and Democratization


It is worth noting that mass culture is a topic viewed differently by various scholars. Key areas of study include the role of mass culture in the processes of modernization and democratization. While some points of view regard culture as an integral and causal factor of emergence and sustenance of democratization, others argue that culture has some correlation but not causal effects on democracy. Other contentious issues on the emergence and sustenance of democracy include corruption, economic development, and political views.

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Literature Review

Case 1


According to a publication, Inglehart and Welzel (1-345), comprehensible and evident changes are taking place in political, social, and sexual aspects of the post-industrial societies. A noticeable aspect of change in politics and leadership is making modern democracy possible through the influence of mass culture (Inglehart and Welzel 1-345).

The authors have adopted a comprehensive approach to democratization, which is based on the Freedom House civil and political rights score. As such, key elements have been conceptualized and discussed. It is evident that change in the level of democracy in various countries throughout the world from the 1980s to the 1990s has been discussed. While some regime changes prefer democratization, other changes move away from democracy, as evident in figure 8.1 in the text and the consequent discussion.

The authors argue that causes precede effects and, therefore, there are connections between democratic mass values and democratic institutions, among other variables. Both institutionalized and cultural explanations have been adopted in linking variables, but the authors consider the cultural explanation as to the more plausible approach. It is worth noting that numerous variables including countries’ GDP, socioeconomic development, time, culture, political ideologies, and self-expression values. Concerning the international factors, the article adopted two approaches, including spatial diffusion and the extent of influence on one regime from its vicinity.

Empirical analysis

For the purposes of analyses, the study selected 61 countries. The selected countries were democratized during the Third wave of democratization and had diverse cultural backgrounds.

The study adopted the time-sequential analysis technique to measure the effects of self-expression on democratization and compared it with the extent and magnitude of the influence of prior democracy on levels of self-expression.

The authors carried out relatively comprehensive measurements. However, data from 1990 for all the 61 cases were not available, and, therefore, they had to use data from 1995 for the affected 21 countries.

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The study sought to establish the causal effects, and it adopted a quantitative four-step analytical approach, which measured independent variables prior to the measurement of the dependent variable when other variables are controlled and when they are not.

The results indicated there are strong links between self-expression values and democracy. It was also evident that self-expression values have a robust instrumental causal influence on the rise and development of democracy, and they are conducive to elite integrity. However, reverse effects were found to be of insignificant levels and, therefore, upholding the view that the cultural explanation is more credible/plausible relative to the institutional explanation.

Critical assessment

The publication contributed significantly to the comprehension of social and political change, especially through the evaluation of the cultural impact on governance, political, and social life.

The book develops earlier theories of modernization and democratization, which the authors consider as simple and sometimes wrong. The book, therefore, is vital since it brings out a revised insight, especially on the nonlinearity of aspects of social change.

The work can be improved by adopting more plausible explanation causal effects of mass culture on democracy.

Case 2


Maravall and Przeworski (1-32) demonstrated the association between the economic level of a country, culture, and the causal mechanisms/sustenance of democracy. Conceptualization of culture and democracy is provided from different schools of thought and publications (Maravall and Przeworski 1-32).

The authors emphasize the role of the economy in the sustenance of democracy while they consider the role of culture and religion as insignificant, or confusing, and difficult to establish empirically. They argue that democracy is dependent on countries’ levels of income.

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Models adopted from other publications are adopted to illustrate why losers and winners of elections are likely to accept or contest the results of an election. The authors claim that culture, constitution, laws, cultural views have significantly weak effects on the sustenance of democracy. On the other hand, economic factors such as wealth distribution and the level of economic growth of a country highly sustain democracy. In countries where wealth is fairly distributed, democracy is more likely to be sustained even if the country is not relatively rich. In addition, countries above a certain level of income are more likely to sustain democracy.

The article heavily borrows from other publications. It faults other views on the role of culture in democracy while supporting some of its arguments using other literature.

The article is relevant to the topic of democracy, making a key contribution to the role of the economy and economic development in the sustenance of democracy. However, the article seems to be over-reliant on other publications.

The work can be improved by adopting empirical study on the causal mechanisms between economic development and democracy.

Case 3


Hadenius and Teorell (87-106) sought to reassess previously put forward theories on democracy. They give the implication that democracy ought to be conceptualized in continuous terms as opposed to the dichotomous approach and that the presence of institutions to some degree influences democracy. The level of a society’s development should not be confused with corruption but dealt with exclusively. Finally, the economic propensity determines the tendency to democracy, with poor countries moving away from democracy (Hadenius and Teorell 87-106).

The study investigates two theories, including the economic theory and the theory of democratic culture, and their effects on democratization processes. As such, economic, political, and cultural aspects are considered. There are attempts to address confusion between causal and correlation aspects among variables.

Empirical analysis

The number of cases selected depending on the availability of data, where 61 countries were selected and 87 surveyed carried out, 41 in 1990 and 46 in 1995.

The concepts were measured using the House of Freedom data stretch where the 1-7 scale was converted to 0-100 democracy index (Hadenius and Teorell 87-106). Further, the corruption perception index is used to compute the degree of effective democracy. It is worth noting 11 surveys had no data on self-expression, and therefore, only 61 cases were adopted. It is worth noting that the lagged variable is controlled.

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The study sought to establish the causal relationships between economic development and democracy and the relationship between political culture and democracy.

The result indicated that elements such as the public perception of democracy and self-expression values do not have causal effects on democracy. Moreover, economic development in autocratic leaderships and countries with low levels of democracy does not lead to democratization. As such, the study disagrees with the societal explanation and partly agrees with the economic theory.

Critical assessment

The key contribution of the study is the distinction between correlation and causal effects between variables. In addition, the study proposed a more plausible approach to conceptualizing democracy, which is the continuous approach. However, the study could not make a conclusive interpretation of some findings, especially the downturn in countries that are considered free.

The article is a critic of other published work, and, therefore, it continues the debate on the process of democracy. The methods applied partly borrow from other experts and have some original aspects.

Case 4


Welzel and Inglehart(74-94) responded to the critic by Hadenius and Teorell (87-106) to reinstate that emancipative values have causal effects on democracy. The study adopts effective democracy to conceptualize democracy, which Hadenius and Teorell had considered flawed. The approach adopted by Hadenius and Teorell (87-106) is faulted by using “a temporarily wider measure of dependent variable” (Welzel and Inglehart 84).

Empirical analysis

The study revealed that increasing the sample size from 61 cases to 74 cases to cater to the concerns raised by Hadenius and Teorell (87-106) on Freedom House rating had no influence on the results.

Democracy was measured using the view of effective democracy, which involves the multiplication with the corruption index.

The results reinstated the view that emancipative orientations have significant causal effects on democracy and, therefore, correcting the study by Hadenius and Teorell (87-106).

Critical assessment

This article contributes to the ongoing debate on the societal explanation. Borrowing from their previous publications (and what they considered as flaws by the publication by Hadenius and Teorell(87-106)), The authors reinstated that expressive views strongly influence democracy.

The study can be improved by treating corruption separately in the empirical study.

Case 5


Teorell and Hadenius(95-111) authored their article as a response to a previously written literature by Inglehart and Welzel (74-94) in an attempt to correct some notions on the causal effect of politics on democracy. Democracy is conceptually viewed as a different element of governance/political systems with numerous causes and correlates, including religion, socioeconomic factors, and resource endowments (such as oil) (Teorell and Hadenius 95-111).

The article highlighted the relationship between democracy and corruption, indicating that new democracies have huge cases of corruption and developed democracies have the capacities to manage corruption levels.

Empirical analyses

The study adopted 73 countries for the study. Data on dependent variables and emancipative values are measured effectively from 1990 and 1995.

The study used the average of the underestimated Freedom House and the overestimated Polity scores in measuring levels of democracy as opposed to the effective democracy approach in case 4. The study is aimed at evaluating the causal and correlation effects of emancipative views and corruption on democracy.

The findings were similar to the results in case 3. The emancipative views have an even weaker and insignificant effect on democracy. Treating corruption as a dependent variable revealed that corruption creates a correlation between emancipative views and effective democracy. The empirical study upheld the explanation and reinstated the findings in case 3.

Critical assessment

The study further reinstates the correlation as opposed to causal effects of emancipative views and corruption on democracy. By using the average of the Freedom House and polity scores, weaker relationships (relative to the findings in case 3) between emancipative views and democracy are established. The study borrows a lot from some of the preceding cases and other literature on the topic.

Works Cited

Hadenius, Axel and Jan Teorell. “Cultural and Economic Prerequisites of Democracy: Reassessing Recent Evidence.” Studies in Comparative International Development 39.4 (2005): 87-106. Print.

Inglehart, Ronald and Christian Welzel. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy. New York; USA: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.

Maravall, Jose Maria and Adam Przeworski. Democracy and the Rule of Law. New York: Cambridge University Press , n.d. Print.

Teorell, Jan and Axel Hadenius. “Democracy without Democratic Values: A Rejoinder to Welzel and Inglehart.” Studies in Comparative International Development 41.3 (2006): 95-111. Print.

Welzel, Christian and Ronald Inglehart. “Emancipative Values and Democracy Response to Hadenius and Teorell.” Studies in Comparative International Development 41.3 (2006): 74-94. Print.

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